Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NFL Wrapup: APR vs ESPN

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Starting with week 4, I included a contrast of APR's power rankings with ESPN's weekly power rankings. This is the final installment of the series for the 2008 season, along with a summary of the teams that appeared on these lists.

Teams that ESPN likes more than APR, week 17:

As with last week, no major disagreements. The Broncos (+5) and Cardinals (+7) are the only team with a differential beyond +4.

Teams that APR likes more than ESPN, week 17:

Similarly on this side. The Ravens (-5), Saints (-6) and Packers (-7) are the only teams with a differential beyond -4.

It should also be noted that ESPN is not exactly going out on a limb this week. The Chargers (8-8) and 49ers (7-9) are the only teams ranked above teams with better records.

Teams that ESPN liked more than APR, regular season

There is a definite "halo" effect where in subjective power rankings, teams that did very well the previous season get a healthy "benefit of the doubt" allowance in spite of weak on-the-field performance. It's probably no coincidence all three of these teams were in the playoffs following the 2007 season.

Patriots (6 weeks)
The Patriots had a very odd trajectory with APR. After their week 6 loss to the Chargers, APR dropped them from #12 all the way to #24. The Patriots then stayed in the bottom half of the rankings until their week 12 win over the Dolphins, but regressed on losing to the Steelers.

APR was 12-3 picking games the Patriots played, missing only the two games against the Dolphins and the week 7 game against the Broncos.

Redskins (5 weeks)
APR was very quick to drop the Redskins after their week 9 loss to the Steelers. ESPN took a long time to notice they weren't playing very strong football—ESPN didn't drop the Redskins below #13 until their week 13 loss to the Giants.

Giants (4 weeks)
The Giants struggled early on, needing overtime to beat the Bengals, and then losing to the Browns 3 weeks later. APR kept them out of the top rankings until week 8, after they beat the Steelers.

Bills, Broncos, Cardinals, Dolphins, Steelers (2 weeks), Colts, Jaguars (1 week).

Teams that APR liked more than ESPN, regular season

There is also an "inverse-halo" effect, for teams that are coming off a very bad season.

Ravens (6 weeks)
APR has had the Ravens in the top 5 since week 9. ESPN would probably rank them higher if they weren't playing in the shadow of the Steelers.

Dolphins (4 weeks)
APR may have sometimes overrated the Dolphins (they were as high as #3 in week 5), but ESPN never placed them higher than #23 until week 9, in spite of other teams much more worthy of those bottom 10 spots.

Bears (4 weeks)
The Bears actually looked very good early on. They beat the Colts, Eagles, and Vikings, and played close to the Panthers and Falcons (all playoff teams). APR had them as high as #3 after their week 7 win over the Vikings. But then they had a 1-3 stretch starting in week 11 which cost them a spot in the playoffs as well as a spot in APR's top 10.

Eagles, Packers, Vikings (3 weeks), Browns, Chargers, Jets, Saints (1 week).